Just two years after buying a $35,000 3D printer for its Lansing Delta plant, GM figures it has saved upwards of $300,000.

That's still a small number for GM, but if the savings are scalable, it figures it can save millions with the technology, reports Automotive News.

So far, you aren't likely to see 3D printed parts on your car, but your car may still benefit. General Motors is looking to replace expensive tools. The Lansing Delta plant, for instance, now uses a 3D printed part to align engine and trans vehicle identification numbers.

The part cost three dollars to make, but GM would have spent $3,000 to get one from a third party supplier.

The technology is still fairly new, though, so GM admits that there are areas of improvement that it just hasn't considered yet. That's why it encourages its employees to submit suggestions for tools that could make their work easier, faster, or less taxing.

GM doesn't think the 3D printer is limited to tools, though. Electric cars could find the technology particularly useful, thinks GM. Showing off a stainless steel seat bracket, the company says that this highly complex part that is most easily made on a 3D printer is 20% lighter than a standard seat bracket.

And with range being such a differentiator on the EV market, every ounce counts.

That's why Dan Grieshaber, director of global manufacturing integration, thinks that every GM plant will someday have a 3D printer.

"We're quickly evolving, creating real value for the plant," he said. "This will become, as we progress, our footprint. We'll have this in every one of our sites."

[source: Automotive News]